by Bernie LaForest, Wisconsin Tenth Amendment Center

Have we forgotten our liberties as we trudge along in our daily lives as they are stripped away without notice?  We wake up in the morning, throw on the coffee and grab something to eat before we start our day.  Some read the paper and some do without because the reporting in them is pretty bad today.  We go to work, put in our day in order to make a pay day and provide for ourselves and our families.  After work, maybe a quick beer with coworkers or friends to talk about the latest sports news or maybe make plans for the weekend.  We come home and see the family and ask the kids how school was today.  We sit down to dinner and then relax before we get some sleep and start again tomorrow. 

But what really happened?  Were your liberties preserved or did something else happen that you are unaware of?  How can that happen, our founding fathers drafted a document in order to form a more perfect union.  A union of states comprised of sovereign citizens.  A more perfect union under our Constitution that guarantees our liberties.  Sadly, our Constitution has been twisted, crumpled and stood on its head for a long time now.  Where is it? 

When I was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, I used to drive up to Washington D.C. once or twice a year and spend time in the museums.  But my favorite place was the National Archives.  Walking into the majestic Rotunda  and staying inside that velvet rope as I walked along the display cases.  Ever vigilant guards on the lookout for trouble, there to protect those valuable documents.  I always found it amazing as I approached and looked at the Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.  There they are safe and sound.  Under heavy glass and an environmentally controlled atmosphere.  No climate change in there, no sir!  

But are they safe?  No, they are not.  They are not, because we have trusted others to protect them and forgotten the price for our liberties.  We have forgotten that an eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  Samuel Adams proclaimed in a letter to James Warren in 1775,

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can
any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is
preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant,
and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own
weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” 

We have been sinking under our own weight and ignoring events as our liberties have been stripped away from us like loggers clear cutting a mountainside.  We surrender our property to bureaucrats who spend it wastefully or give it away.  A government that has overstepped its bounds for way too long.  They tell us how much money we owe them, what kind of car to drive, what kind of gas to buy, what to eat and drink.  These are all liberties that we have watched freely as they have been stripped from us.  Without so much as a fight in most cases we have allowed this to happen, much under our watch. 

It does not take a constitutional scholar to understand the constitution.  The powers of the government are enumerated and clearly defined.  Some like to take a phrase or two out of the preamble or claim power because of a couple words found elsewhere.  If the founding fathers intended for the “General Welfare” clause to grant the federal government powers to do whatever they wanted than why did they take the time to list the enumerated powers?

A number of prominent citizens were alarmed at the omission of individual liberties at the draft of the Constitution.  George Mason and others refused to sign it.  Thomas Jefferson, serving as the US Minister to France at the time, wrote to James Madison that he was concerned about “the omission of a bill of rights…..providing clearly……freedom of religion…..freedom of the press…..protection against standing armies and restriction against monopolies.” 

George Washington, at his first inaugural address urged the Congress to propose amendments that offered “a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for public harmony.”   12 articles were proposed and articles 3-12 were ratified in 1791 and became the first ten amendments of our constitution.

So, is it too late?  Have we failed as a society?  No it is not.  That is why the Tenth Amendment is important to each of us.  It is not a left or right idea, not a republican or democrat idea.  It is part of our Constitution and it is our duty as citizens to see that our state representatives perform that which they are “duty bound” to do.  To protect the sovereign citizens of the state. 

Resolved,

Reach out to your representatives, your coworkers and friends.  This is our watch and our time to become vigilant, our time to bring our Constitution back from exile.

“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution” – Thomas Jefferson

Bernie LaForest is the Outreach Director for the Wisconsin Tenth Amendment Center.